NCR celebrates National Women and Girls in Sports Day

Today is the 35th Anniversary of National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD). According to The Women’s Sports Foundation, NGWSD began in 1987 as a special day in our nation’s capital to recognize women’s sports. The day united premiere organizations and elite female athletes to bring national attention to the promise of girls and women in sports. In 1987, NGWSD also served as a remembrance of Olympic volleyball player, Flo Hyman, for her athletic achievements and dedication to promoting equality for women’s sports; Hyman died of Marfan’s Syndrome in 1986. NGWSD has since evolved into an event to acknowledge the accomplishments of female athletes, the positive influence of sports participation and the continuing struggle for equality for women in sports.

Today NCR celebrates National Women and Girls in Sports Day. We honor and recognize the amazing women who have worked tirelessly to improve women’s collegiate rugby and have played an important role in helping to build NCR as the leading rugby organization in the country. From members of the NCR Board of Directors, to Conference Commissioners and staff, NCR has some amazing women working with us. Below is a showcase of just a few of the women who promote and grow collegiate rugby around the United States.  We are proud of these women and are so grateful for the work they do.

We hope the showcase below can help inspire other women and girls to participate and work in sports.  We are all one team and work together to build up the sport of rugby. We help women and girls everywhere believe that their hobbies and jobs can always include fun!

Jessie Blitz
NCR Women’s Small College Commissioner

Started playing sports: Soccer at age 4

Why she started playing sports: Athleticism and competitiveness runs in the family.

Sports she loves to watch: Soccer and American Football

Sports she loves to play: Rugby.

Favorite Sports Movie: Miracle and A League of Their Own

What does she love about working in sport: Being able to give back to the community that built me into the woman I am today!

Megan Braun
NCR Disciplinarian

Started playing sports: 5th grade.

Why she started playing sports: Competition, sportsmanship and teamwork.

Sports she loves to watch: Football, UFC, hockey and of course Rugby!

Sports she loves to play: Rugby and most recently Pickleball.

Favorite Sports Movie: Miracle

What does she love about working in sport: Making a difference and giving back to the sport that has done so much for me!

Stephanie Desens
Commissioner: Great Waters Women’s Rugby Conference

Started playing sports: 5 years old.

Why she started playing sports: I wanted to make new friends while starting to be active.

Sports she loves to watch: Rugby and Football.

Sports she loves to play: Rugby.

Favorite Sports Movie: Remember the Titans.

What does she love about working in sport: I love the life-long relationships that I create with the people I play/work with!

Mikayla Miller
Commissioner: Midwest Women’s Collegiate Conference
Coach: University of Minnesota Women’s Rugby Club

Started playing sports: 8 years old

Why she started playing sports: To have fun with her friends and compete.

Sports she loves to watch: Soccer and American Football.

Sports she loves to play: She grew up as a multi-sport athlete, but rugby quickly became her passion in high school.

Favorite Sports Movie: Rudy

What does she love about working in sport: I believe contributing to my community it is one of the greatest platforms to influence, create, and sustain positive change in the world.

Jayme Pendergast
NCR Board of Directors: Vice President

Started playing sports: At age 5

Why she started playing sports: Competition and skill development.

Sports she loves to watch: Most anything except baseball.

Sports she loves to play: Basketball.

Favorite Sports Movie: If we can count the first season of Queen’s Gambit as a movie, then definitely that. She loves her pursuit of being the best.

What does she love about working in sport: You get to see how sport is really just the vehicle to so many other great things in life. Opens so many doors.

Rachel Riccardo
Lafayette College Women’s Coach, EPRU Women’s Collegiate Co-Coordinator, EPRU Board Member

Started playing sports: rugby in High School with the Hibernian Banshees.

Why she started playing sports: Rugby found her. Friends told her about the sport and to come out. She did and they fell in love.

Sports she loves to watch: Rugby.

Sports she loves to play: Rugby.

Favorite Sports Movie: Blue Chips, Varsity Blues, and A League of Their Own.

What does she love about working in sport: Growing the game.

Angela Smarto (Smarto)
NCR Interim Women’s Director

Started playing sports: At age 5

Why she started playing sports: Smarto started playing TBall because her brother played and she wanted to be like him.

Sports she loves to watch: Rugby, Hockey and the Olympics.

Sports she loves to play: Rugby is her most recent, but she enjoyed all team sports growing up.

Favorite Sports Movie: A League of Their Own

What does she love about working in sport: My involvement in sports has defined my entire life. I enjoy working with other passionate advocates of sport because of the rewarding factors they bring to individuals and communities.

Jennifer Stratton
NCR Board of Directors and EPRU Vice President

Started playing sports: 12 years old

Why she started playing sports: To be part of a team and make new friends.

Sports she loves to watch: Rugby, football and hockey.

Sports she loves to play: Rugby, softball, weightlifting.

Favorite Sports Movie: Major League (hil-arious!).

What does she love about working in sport: I love being able to make rugby more accessible to as many people as possible, to help create easy systems to set up future players/coaches/refs/admin for success and bringing as many people into the game as possible.

Lucy Zugschwert
NCR Membership and Marketing Director

Started playing sports: 4th grade.

Why she started playing sports: Her sister played soccer and she wanted to play too!

Sports she loves to watch: Hockey and Football.

Sports she loves to play: Anything with running!

Favorite Sports Movie: Any Given Sunday

What does she love about working in sport: Working in sports makes my work day fun!